Italy election: Giorgia Meloni and the far right expected to win

ROME – Italy doesn’t feel like a country about to retreat to the far right.

Two-thirds of Italians say they are optimistic about the future of the European Union, stimulate helped boost the country – and raise the bloc’s image – in the wake of the economic shock of the pandemic. Moreover, the country has been led for the past year and a half by the economist Mario Draghia model of central stability, who continues to receive high approval ratings.

But if Sunday’s national elections go as planned, Draghi’s successor as prime minister will be Giorgia Meloni, a firefighter from the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party who wants land His country pushed for more autonomy in Europe, blockading the Mediterranean. against undocumented immigrants and defends traditional family identities that she says are under attack.

A far-right politician poised to become Italy’s first female leader

Crucially, in a country rebuilt from the ruins of war and fascism, Meloni will be the first Italian leader from a party of post-fascist descent – as does the flame symbol. tricolor is reminiscent of an earlier radical political movement that formed shortly after Mussolini’s death. She will take power 100 years after March in Rome, the death knell for Italian democracy before World War II.

Here are the factors – historical, contemporary and structural – that have made such a scenario possible.

Instability is at the heart of Italian politics, and irrational zigzags are a feature of the system, not a bug. Since the end of World War II, Italy has passed governments every 400 days. Careers rise and fall at a super-fast rate. Voters rallied around the parties and then dropped them off. At recent constant levels, 40 to 50 percent of voters tend to favor the right. And Meloni has, in recent years, withdrawn votes from competing parties – in part because Fratelli d’Italia remains in opposition.

Giorgia Meloni’s interview with The Washington Post

The design of the system also benefits Meloni. Voters do not directly choose the prime minister. And because of such dispersion, a figure like Meloni just needs to convince many voters of her party’s suitability. In this case, the Fratelli d’Italia is expected to be the choice of about a quarter of the voters who will be voters – enough to make it Italy’s most famous party. And based on its alliance with others on the right – as opposed to infighting on the left – it has an overwhelming win rate to prevail in the vote.

But national votes, even those that seem decisive, rarely bring about the change of tide they might in France or the United States. Italy’s last national vote, in 2018, is a prime example. That election seemed like the beginning of a populist revolution, and it initially led to a government of anti-establishment forces on the left and right. But their deal is difficult. One government falls and then the next. Finally, in the midst of the pandemic emergency, the Italian president chose Draghi to lead a united coalition. In other words: Three years after a populist revolt underpinned by heavy Europeanism, Italy is being run by a former European central banker chosen and dedicated by a man. to polish Italy’s stature in Brussels.

In terms of his social views, Meloni shares many similarities with Viktor Orban, the ruler of Hungary’s autocratic turn. Meloni stresses the importance of defending what she says is Europe’s Christian identity. She blasts the “awakening” of the left and its stances on gender identity.

But on other matters, Meloni has managed to make herself more appetizing when it comes to central Italy, a tactic that has helped bring her party to the edge. She once argued for the dissolution of the euro zone; Now she says that Italy’s place is in Europe. She had sprung up on conspiracies about unknown forces deliberately orchestrating mass exodus to Italy; she no longer speaks those terms.

She compares Fratelli d’Italia to Britain’s Tories and Israel’s Likud – conservative parties, not normative saboteurs. And she has described herself as sometimes working to support Draghi’s initiatives, including measures related to Ukraine, which she has staunchly supported against Russia.

“She has developed a way to talk to international interlocutors, which sounds reasonable,” said Nathalie Tocci, Director of the Italian Institute of International Affairs. “But she can also speak with a Roman accent, a fiery voice, in a way that conveys a message [to her base]. So she is an effective politician.”

One of the fiercest debates among Italians revolves around the country’s past – and to what extent the fascist DNA strands still linger in Meloni’s party. Last month, Meloni released a video saying that the Italian right had given fascism “to history” decades ago, and denounced anti-Semitic laws that have been one of the most pernicious elements in the country’s history. Mussolini’s reign.

But that still doesn’t end the discussion.

Italy has never broken with a German-style war identity, largely because the conflict ended in a messy way: with the fall of Mussolini in 1943, with the birth of a puppet state led by Germany support and a violent protest movement was joined by a number of former military-fascist elements. There was never a major purge of the Mussolini-era government. Some of his loyalists, in the aftermath of the war, founded the Italian Social Movement, a neo-fascist group that never received more than one digit support and was dissolved in 1995. Subsequent, less extreme iterations include Fratelli d’Italia, founded in 2012.

So what connects Meloni to the Nazi era? Critics say some themes remain. Over the years, two descendants of Mussolini have run under the party’s banner. Several members of the party in 2019 attended a March celebration dinner in Rome. Meloni herself said, in 1996, as a teenager – in a campaign ring video – that Mussolini was a “good politician”.

In Italy, such comments are hardly disqualified. In 2013, Silvio Berlusconi said Mussolini was a good leader in many respects, despite anti-Semitic laws. Berlusconi led another party in Meloni’s coalition.

Weakness on the left translates into strength on the right – and the left rarely shakes. If all the left-leaning parties were put together, they could turn the vote into an election. But with how fragmented they are, they hardly stand a chance.

It’s not always like this. In 2019, the leader of another far-right party, Matteo Salvini, orchestrated the collapse of the government in an attempt to force new elections and seize power for himself. Salvini’s League was, at the time, by far the most popular party. But his game doesn’t work. That’s because the center-left Democratic Party and the anti-establishment (and entirely left-leaning) Five Star Movement have spent years competing fiercely and banding together to form a coalition to stop the uprisings. election and closure for Salvini.

Around this time, the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party were experiencing tense conditions. Both were once part of the Draghi government, but the Five Star Movement helped start its downfall, in part because it opposed the waste incinerator project. Democrats vehemently oppose Five Stars’ maneuvering.

The rift between parties, Democrat leader and former prime minister Enrico Letta said in July, had become “irreparable”.

Now they are running separate campaigns against the right.

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